Ok, first of all, it needs to be said: there’s no reason for anyone to eat this much meat in one sitting. Ever. I’m talking about the 48-ounce Porterhouse steak that is served at Shula’s Steak House at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin.
I’m talking about the steak sitting in front of me. Just beyond the steak, on the other side of the table, is Don Shula, the legendary coach of the Miami Dolphins whose name is on the restaurant. The occasion is the 48-Ounce Steak Challenge in which the restaurant has invited some local media types to lunch to see if anyone can eat the whole thing. And yes, it has to be done in one sitting. Give me a week with this thing and it would be a piece of cake…um, well, you know what I mean. And the prize? Anyone who finishes this Fred Flintstone sized slab of beef gets his name on a plaque — presumably with the words “In Memoriam.”
I’ll admit it right now: I had no intention of even trying to eat the whole steak. I’ve seen my name on plaques before and that just didn’t seem reason enough. Even if you take into consideration that the bone is about 10 ounces of the total weight, you’re still looking at approximately 1,800 calories, not to mention 264 grams of fat, 96 of which are saturated. I’ve made certain promises to my colon, and eating this entire steak would be a violation of that treaty.
So why did I accept the challenge if I wasn’t going to go the whole nine yards? Frankly, I would never give up the chance for a Shula’s steak, especially a free one. And a free one that comes with a suggested retail price of $85! I’ve been a fan of this steakhouse for a very long time. It has been awarded a number of my Foodie Awards for best steakhouse and one year also won my Best Restaurant Overall award. It’s a fine restaurant, and its beef is of unquestionable quality.
This steak was no exception. This huge hunk of steer, nearly four inches thick, was buttery tender. I had requested medium-rare, and even with its girth it was done just right. If I had a death-by-steak wish, this would be the one I would go with.
While I nibbled at the meat, and others at the table attacked theirs in the true spirit of competition, Shula regaled us with tales of others who have been enshrined in the pantheon of meat-eaters at other Shula’s. Such as the fellow who comes to the original Shula’s in Miami Lakes every Dolphins game weekend and has three 48-ouncers over the course of a couple of days, including a pre-game and post-game feast. There’s one fellow who ate three in one evening. And one man is approaching a career record of 200 48-ounce steaks. I make no judgements about this. I just thought you should know that such people walk among us. Or, perhaps, waddle.
But wait, I shouldn’t stereotype. In fact, during our lunch three of the challengers finished their steaks and none were what I would call huge, and in fact two were downright slender. Marc Daniels, host of 740 “The Game,” was the first to declare triumph. He’s not one of the winners I’d call slender, but he’s no Jerry Greene, either. Jerry, of course, is the longtime sports columnist. He and I both worked for the Orlando Sentinel during the same two decades. (When I was seated next to him for our lunch, I said, “It’s nice to finally meet you.”) For the record, Jerry ate even less of his steak than I did. (And Coach Shula, who ate a much smaller steak for lunch, admitted to us that he has never tried to eat the 48-ouncer, either.)
Second to finish was Eric Hopes, photographer for Bright House Sports Network. Hopes was there with reporter Tiffany Greene, and between bites would get up to shoot some footage of her while she ate. And I should mention that Hopes is a fairly fit looking guy. Others might actually use the word skinny to describe him.
But perhaps the most impressive finisher was Tiffany Greene herself, also a fit and trim person. Rare, we were told, for a woman to accept the challenge let alone achieve plaquedom. The winners also received a certificate to return to Shula’s for another steak.
For me, I was happy with my consolation prize: enough leftovers to last the rest of the week.